Yesterday I wrote my first “fan mail” letter to a famous food blogger: Molly Wizenberg of Orangette.
I do not often write “fan mail.” In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done so in the past. My letters have gone to an eclectic list of people, including a game show host, a child star, and a writer.
My first letter went to Bob Barker, former host of The Price is Right. I watched that show all the time as a kid, especially over the summers when my brother and I sometimes stayed at my grandparents’ house. Dziadzi, my grandfather, always watched it, so I started watching with him. Over time I got increasingly annoyed that the contestants had to be at least 18. So I wrote Bob Barker a letter suggesting he start a similar game show for kids. A few weeks later I received two black-and-white photographs in return, one of Barker and one of “Barker’s Beauties,” the three women who showcased the show’s prizes.
I sent my next letter to Chad Allen, who played David Witherspoon on TV’s Our House and who I had a huge crush on. I often dreamed that I was a part of David’s world: I was in a building that burned down during his retreat and I needed him to rescue me (not very feminist of me, I know); I was the female drummer when he started a band, thumping out the beat to Billy Idol’s Mony Mony while he sang. Because I wanted Chad Allen to personally respond to me, I wrote on the envelope “This is not a request for photographs.” Still, I got a black-and-white photo in return and a form letter, typed and stamped with his name.
My third letter came probably fifteen years later, when I sent a note to Elizabeth Gilbert after reading Eat Pray Love. I read the book several times after my brother died. It helped me to know that she was having a hard time and that she found a way to get through it. I wrote to tell her this. This time I received a personal response, a handwritten postcard that I still have somewhere, probably tucked between the pages of a book for safe-keeping.
I tell you all this to point out that I only write fan mail occasionally and only when I feel strongly compelled to do so. In this case, I’ve been checking in on Molly Wizenberg’s blog every now and then, and I’ve learned that we have some things in common. We both like prunes; we both like to cook simply; we’re both pregnant. I guess that’s the potentially creepy thing about blogging: people you don’t know can know an awful lot about you, especially when you’re popular.
But honestly I probably never would have gotten in touch if I hadn’t found several references to Bruce Springsteen on Orangette. A Springsteen show is the only concert I will attend every chance I get, and will pay for no matter what the price.
(As an aside, if you’re a Springsteen fan and you find yourself in Philadelphia between now and September 3rd, I recommend the Springsteen exhibit at the National Constitution Center. It’s well worth the admission price just to hear the two original, Beatles-influenced songs that Bruce recorded with his first band, The Castiles.)
So because of Springsteen, I wrote Molly a letter to tell her that I love the way she writes about food. Every recipe is connected to a story, whether it be times she spent at home or in Paris with her father or her budding relationship with her husband, which developed thanks to her blog.
But more than that, what I really love is the way she describes food. Listen to what she has to say about the dessert coeur à la crѐme (a cross between cheesecake and mousse) in A Homemade Life, her book of short stories and recipes:
“It was also very pretty: a velvety ivory-colored heart whose surface was quilted daintily from the cheesecloth that lined its mold, with a deep red puddle of pureed raspberries on the side. It was beautiful in a precious bed-and-breakfast kind of way, but it went down like a New York cheesecake, in lusty, sauce-slinging gulps.”
I love that last line. I aspire to write a last line like that.
With my letter this time, black-and-white photos and personal responses aside, I just wanted to tell her that.
Have you ever sent “fan mail” to famous bloggers (or celebrities or game show hosts, for that matter)? What makes you want to write this type of letter? Tell us about it.